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Game of Thrones 1×02 Rewatch: The Feels’ Road

Welcome back to The Wars to Come, our weekly Game of Thrones rewatch going back through the watchable years. Last week, showrunners Benioff and Weiss (D&D) introduced us to the world of what will become Weisseroff. This week, it’s “The Kingsroad,” presented by Kylie, Julia, Jess (our illustrious Season 7 reviewer), and Dan.

For those who weren’t able to watch, Kylie’s prepared her usually summary of events.

Episode Recap

It’s literally go-go-go (for once) in the second episode! Bran somehow survived his fall, but is in a coma, his mother Cat absolutely refusing to leave his bedside. Yet this tragedy doesn’t slow the King one bit, as he sets out with his party back to King’s Landing. That means it’s time for Ned, Sansa, and Arya to leave home, their direwolves in tow.

These are not the only people with Stark-blood leaving Winterfell, however; Jon Snow takes off as well to join the Night’s Watch! Before he departs, he gives Arya a present—a small sword she names “Needle.” He says goodbye to Ned too, getting a promise that he’ll learn all about his mother soon, before journeying north with his uncle Benjen Stark, and Tyrion Lannister, who’s merely curious to see The Wall. On the way, Jon meets two more men set to become his brothers in the Night’s Watch: rapers! Has the high esteem he’s held the order in been misplaced?

Despite everyone leaving, there’s not a dull moment in Winterfell to be had. A strange catspaw assassin sneaks into Bran’s room, intending to kill him. Thanks to Cat, and ultimately Summer, he is unsuccessful (and dead), but that anyone would want Bran murdered further arouses Cat’s suspicions. She is convinced the Lannisters are somehow behind it all, just like her sister had warned her about Jon Arryn’s death, and feels she must alert Ned. But how? His party is long-gone! Cat decides she will ride the Kingsroad herself, taking only Ser Rodrik Cassel as protection, and putting Robb in charge while she’s gone.

Further south on the Kingsroad, things heat up there as well! When the betrothed Joffrey and Sansa decide to go on a romantic stroll in the woods, they find Arya practicing sword-fighting (stick-hitting prime!) with her friend Mycah, the son of the butcher. Joffrey cruelly teases them and begins to hurt Mycah with his very real sword until Arya hits him. When Joffrey turns his rage on her, her direwolf Nymeria leaps to the rescue and mauls Joffrey’s arm.

All the shits that were given.

Arya scares her wolf away in order to protect her, but when she’s brought before the King and Queen to face “justice,” Cersei demands that a direwolf get punished all the same. In this case that means the only one left: Sansa’s direwolf Lady. Ned, disgusted, insists on putting her down himself. As Lady dies, Bran awakes from his coma.

And finallllyyy, in the Dothraki Sea, the new Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen is desperate to make her situation better. She determines the best thing she can do is win Khal Drogo’s affection, and thanks to some sex training from a sex worker slave traveling with them, insists on intercourse in a manner of her choosing. It may be a small degree of agency, but it’s certainly a start.

Will she be able to “rule the Khal” from the bedroom as Doreah said? Does Bran remember what he saw in the tower? Will Jon commit himself to the Night’s Watch? Find out next time on the Game of Thrones rewatch: The Wars to Come!

Initial, quick reaction

Kylie: My reaction was mostly favorable again, and Sean Bean’s performance actually made me emotional. Emotions. I forgot that was a possibility. I feel like I have more nitpicks over all with this episode, but how much ground was covered made me not be overly annoyed by any one thing. Like…this spanned *months*, didn’t it? (Not in a bad way.)

Julia: Cersei did say it took them a month to travel up, I don’t see why they would been speedier down. And Cat said she’s been praying for more than a month.

I see your Sean Bean and raise you all the child actors. Where did they find all these kids? Even lil’ Tommen and Myrcella are so natural.

Jess: Agreed with everything said above! Those kids!!! Mostly positive about this episode save one or two things (namely the full on introduction of Carol), but wow! Colors, characterizing the setting, small meaningful character interactions even in the background! Other than the obvious benefit of majorly following the books in the early seasons working to their benefit, I really think the lower budget forced them to be more creative and focus on what mattered because they couldn’t blow it all on a dragon battle.

Dan: I’d forgotten how much I loved this show until I rewatched this. Everything that brought me in and kept me hooked is here. Dialogue from the books put directly on screen, artful worldbuilding, subtlety. All the characters are as they should be and D&D are just executing an adaptation, not making masturbatory fanfic.

Highlights/lowlights

Julia: I can’t think of a moment that made me cringe or embarrassed to be watching, which is how I would judge a lowlight these days, but I can’t say I enjoyed watching a lot of the Dorthraki stuff. There was something about the sex lesson especially that was a little eye rolling. But this episode doesn’t even register on my Game of Thrones (GoT) Cringe-O-Metre as currently calibrated.

My highlight has to be Harry Lloyd again. Kylie mentioned last week how his beaming at the thought of murderous Dothraki weddings characterized him so perfectly. Well, this week it was his “Under my reign you won’t be punished for such nonsense,” to Mormont. The “nonsense” he was talking about was, of course, fucking slavery. It characterized him as a king so perfectly. Just 100% entitlement, and no sense of duty whatever. The polar opposite of what Varys will say is Young Griff’s main strength way in the book!future. Lloyd just gets this across so wonderfully in an instant.

Jess: Nothing registers as detrimentally bad, especially within the episode, but my lowlight would probably have to be the rise of Carol with Cersei’s story about the baby she lost with Robert. It was a weird choice for her character on so many levels because at first you’re inclined to think she’s lying, especially with her wish that Bran should wake up. She definitely doesn’t want that to happen. However, we find out later she’s definitely not lying about the baby. It also is one of the early instances of them erasing a female character’s assertion of grappling for any agency they could get within the context of the patriarchal setting. While I’m not condoning incest, the act of preventing herself from having any kids with her rapist and only wanting the kids she had with the man she consensually loves is a powerful act from Cersei in a position that wants her to remain inactive. But sad, sympathetic mom is more interesting right?

Highlight would probably have to be Maisie Williams as Arya. Contrasting the horrific and emotionless performance she’s being directed to give in the current seasons, watching the pure and natural performance she gives here is really moving. She is Arya. Especially with her show siblings. It feels like a family. There’s a beautiful moment when Sansa is realizing that Cersei means for Illyn to kill Lady, where, in the background, Arya puts her hand on Sansa’s arm for support. And the goodbye scene with Jon always tugs on my heart a little.

Julia: Honourable Mention to that scene with Robert and Ned in the middle of the field. Mark Addy was being wonderful with lots of noise and fury, and Sean Bean was just as good mostly sitting in silence looking deeply uncomfortable.

Kylie: I feel like I should echo Jess’s lowlight as mine, since that was the only scene my brain was incapable of focusing for. But in general I think I’m more bothered by the Dany sex lessons, like Julia. There was something almost comedic about her final scene with Drogo? Again, I have no clue how to translate this relationship. If we start with it being made clear she has no agency or ability to consent in this marriage, which is not necessarily a bad change, we have to get something like this moment where she decides her best play is to utilize her sexuality as a sort of weapon. I think maybe it was the framing: this is her using the only tool in her belt. However, she was vocalizing it as “making the Khal happy” (which I know gets echoed later by Viserys in Tub Scene #1™). And yeah, you can write these things off as POV bias, but given what happens to that concept as time goes on…

Sorry guys, I’m picking Sean Bean as my highlight again. His “I promise” actually made me choke up. I don’t know, I had a long day and there was dust in my eye.

Though another potential lowlight for me is there too: Kit Harington’s Jon. He can’t really help being about five years too old for most of his lines, but boy does he have the range of a woodblock. At least a rewatch is proving that Emilia Clarke can move her face—him? Mouthbreathing confusing out of the gate.

Dan: My highlight in this episode is and will always be Ned and Bobby B at camp, reminiscing about the war before news of Dany spoils everything. Not only are Mark Addy and Sean Bean able to deftly shift from comedy to tragedy in the blink of an eye, but they do so in a truly human way. The pain in Robert’s voice as he remembers the pain the Targaryans have caused, the subtle sadness behind Ned’s smile. This scene comes almost entirely from the books and is presented perfectly. Second place would be Jon saying goodbye to Bran, thanks entirely to Michelle Fairley’s acting. I especially love how she’s able to channel all of her emotions into her little doll as she tries, tries and ultimately fails, to play it cool around Ned’s bastard.

The only lowlights I really find in the first run of episodes are the Dothraki scenes. Between the uncomfortable Orientalism and the blatant fetishization of Dany’s sexual stockholm syndrome, I usually zone out or fast forward through these on normal rewatch. Thank god for Harry Lloyd, who only has a small appearance but is just so wonderfully slimy.

Kylie: Thank you for those succinct labels too, when I’m trying to express why those scenes are so bothersome. Though let’s be clear we’re saying “literary stockholm syndrome,” since the medical syndrome itself is…well, the dialogue is fraught.

Quality of writing

Julia: At this point, I could still believe that D&D are competent writers.

Kylie: What effusive praise, Julia. I’d venture to even say “good” based on this episode. Granted, as with the pilot, so much of that is thanks to Martin’s dialogue. It just sounds right for the setting, and most of the actors can really deliver on it. Though the added goodbye between Ned and Jon didn’t fall into their normal D&D Original Scene™ traps even a little bit. I guess it wasn’t long, and there’s an element of, “Well what else would you write there?”, but I’ll give credit where credit is due.

Julia: It didn’t even fall into the trap of, “Oh no, we can’t give them any actual clues or it might wreck the shock!” I loved Ned’s conversation with Jon, and Ned’s conversation with Robert. The latter is just a book scene that D&D get no credit for, but they need to get credit for that Jon scene. Like, how did these two bright kids go so terribly wrong?

But…then there’s that scene of Cersei monologuing about her dead baby. What the fuck was that?

Jess: Yeah this episode reminded me of several good show invented moments in the first season. I even liked that scene between Jaime and Jon. It’s a really great moment that shows an understanding of Jaime’s character that they seemed to lose once they decided to forego the Kingsguard arc…but I just can’t wrap my head around the Cersei monologue. What were they going for with this? Did they just skim her storyline for all future books?

Julia: I’m sorry, I’m still on the Robert/Ned scene. They so didn’t fall into their usual trap there, that they actually lead into that scene from the scene where Jon asks Ned if his mother is still alive/cares. And we get the “answer” that she’s some random chick. It’s like they’re inviting the audience to ask questions, like, “why would Ned hide that from Jon? Is there more to this story?” They would NEVER do that in the later seasons.

And was it just me or did Tyrion seem less insufferable this episode? He was a dick to Jon on the road, but the family breakfast scene was very sweet. Also, Joffery getting slapped. It’s rather complicated, since we’re talking about hitting a child, but you believe he could be the Good Guy Lannister.

Kylie: It might just help that you and I have recently reread Tyrion in the first two books, and we were treated to seven pages of him congratulating himself for sticking it to Benjen by taking a cloak he had been offered. However, Dinklage is wonderfully charismatic and can do well with material that has actual depth. He and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau sold that sibling dynamic perfectly, and it was actually nice to see some familial affection there, even if it’s reserved for only a few family members with the Lannisters.

I’m as flummoxed about the dead baby monologue as you are, Jess. This was too early for them to already be taken with Lena Headey, so I’m not sure where the motivation came from to script it, entirely. I’ll blame it on the hair color reveal.

Jess: Yeah, it’s probably a fall back on lazy writing without thinking about it affecting the future of these character arcs (something we know they fall into frequently in the later seasons). I guess when in doubt they went the cheap and easy route, just like the CSI Cat scene when she finds the one blonde strand of hair in the tower.

Julia: Omg, that was hilarious. I’m also not sure if the magic doll mandala Cat made is on the same level as the eye stones, either.

Dan: You may read me as honeypotting, but I always viewed that scene as Cersei telling Cat what she wants to hear. It’s Cersei trying to put up the face she feels is expected.

This whole episode just seems to work better in hindsight, as this was when the show actually built up its twists and revelations, instead of shitting out deaths and resurrections every week to get Twitter worked up. So, things like Robb’s line about the next time he and Jon will meet, The Hound’s interactions with Sansa, and yes, even Cersei’s little speech on her child. It all pays off in some way later in the season or the show as a whole. D&D are probably on their best behavior because their writing has to line up with the book/Martin’s writing; they can’t just let it go off into bullshit as it would stand out a country mile.

Kylie: It’s definitely a honeypot, Dan, but it’s not the worst I’ve heard for the scene. I’m just gonna stay here yelling, “it’s Doylism!”. Hair color seeding. I’m putting all the jellybeans on it.

Our 8th grade book report (on themes)

Julia: Um… power? Or, like, finding agency? Or a role? Cat thinks her role is to be the neurotic concerned mom, but then she discovers she supposed to be the Mama Bear? Dany finds agency through ruling in the bedroom? Ned finds a way to let Lady die by his own terms? Best I can do.

Jess: I feel like even in the better episodes they’ve never been great about thematically connecting all story points in a single episode. I guess we know why. I think Julia found the strongest line in finding agency within an oppressive, unjust system. Even though I think they also worked against it by steering in the complete opposite directions for Cersei and Cat’s character. It definitely works for Dany, Sansa in the trial scene, Arya’s resistance, Jon choosing the Wall, and Ned. The rest I don’t feel so strongly about.

Kylie: Well, Benioff’s famous “themes are for eighth-grade book reports” quote was specifically in the context of a critic asking about if there was intentionality that could be inferred from the season as a whole. It doesn’t shock me that there’d be even less concern about thematic cohesion for individual episodes. There’s a few exceptions, like in “Home” where you can go, “look these characters are talking about their homes or in their homes,” but even those are shallow. Critics have said, without irony, that “boxes” is a theme of an episode on this show.

I can live with “female agency” being the strongest thread, though most of me assumes it’s happenstance.

Jess: I would also argue that thematic threads within individual episodes that pop up, especially in the first two seasons, are probably an accidental result of grouping chapters from the book together, that Martin intentionally wrote with thematic connection, on screen.

Dan: Along similar lines, the “others” are the focus of this story and the way that the patriarchal structure robs them of the agency Julia touched on. Whether it is the women of the story or the men who rank lower in the social hierarchy due to their birth (Jon, Mycah) or appearance (Tyrion). Cat and Cersei represent opposing examples of the type of woman who might be able to survive in this sort of world. They’re paralleled multiple times in this episode, but by the end of the season we’ll find out just how successful Cersei is compared to Cat.

I’d argue that even Ned and Bobby’s scene works to play out that idea of agency and control, especially as it relates to female characters. Women are, to Robert, playthings at best. Even as he finds joy in sex with the barmaids of his past, he demonizes Dany for sex as well purely because her “breeding” plays a direct threat to his power where a barmaid “spreading her legs” poses no danger to him.

Even the title ties in here. All of the characters (Dany aside) are traveling to meet what they think are their destinies. But the only way they can get there is the Kingsroad, a direct line to the seat of power robbing them of all of their agency.

Most of this, like Jess said, is probably because they’re still sticking to Martin, so the sorts of things he was doing are still intact.

Cracks in the plaster (the bullshit to come)

Julia: There might be a bit of a crack in the way Doreah and her sex lesson was framed and filmed. Ya know, two women having sexy-times in a very heterosexual context.

Jess: Oh yes the sex lesson! The overall framing of it in the story was better handled than most of their similar content, but it still felt incredibly male-gazey in terms of how it was filmed. A lot of focus on the bodies.

Kylie: It was Dany’s college experiment!

May I just add, CAROL!!! She makes her shy debut here, though I’d say she doesn’t fully form until Season 3. I’m not sure if this is a crack in a plaster officially? It’s definitely indicative of what’s to come with Cersei (she’s just a sad, put-upon mom, guys), but their penning of her was more a choice to write someone entirely new than like, “we’re erasing Cat’s political ambitions.” Which was also a thing this episode again.

Julia: The very first Put Upon Carol Monologue cannot be ignored.

Jess: Most definitely the Carol Monologue! I kind of forgot how both bad and strange of a choice it was. What a fundamental misunderstanding of her character and that’s right off the bat. If they were in love with this monologue so much I wish they would have at least intended it as disingenuous. The Cat stuff is pretty bad too. Motherhood has to be the only defining trait for these female characters.

Dan: It’s 100% the sex stuff. It’s where they get their sexposition in, which was the single biggest recurring red flag this season. Plus, we’re already getting hints of Deadpan, as Emilia is having to spend some time outside of “scared and confused foreigner,” and she just can’t really do it. Some say she’s still trying to emote to this day.

Kylie: She wants to, she really wants to. Her face moved in the Solo trailer, didn’t it?

Remember adaptation?

Kylie: CAROL!!! No really, was there any reason you can think that they gave her a dead brown-haired baby with Robert other than to awkwardly seed the parentage reveal? Had they just forgotten A Feast For Crows (or assumed they’d never adapt the prophecy)? Is there a reason this is the change I’m fixated on? (Yes.)

Julia: It’s a very odd choice.

Jess: Yeah…that’s my answer for a lot of these questions. It was certainly the point of the episode that stood out like a sore thumb. In the “Inside the Episode” Benioff says he thinks she’s manipulative, but he “believes her” devastation over the loss of her son. What is she trying to manipulate here or gain? I can understand her needing to feign sympathy to avert any suspicion and do her queenly duty, but they make it out like this moment is supposed to mean something more and certainly give it the time to do so. Also, we are well into the beginning of the staring off into space monologues with emotional music.

Not to belabor the point…

Julia: Good point. You kind of touched in this earlier Jess, when you asked if they just skimmed Cersei’s later material. I feel like FeastDance made me know Cersei and the way she thinks quite well, but I can’t imagine how that character would have convinced herself that what she needed to do was randomly tell Cat Tully about the greatest trauma in her life. In fact, Cersei never confides in anyone ever, I don’t think. The closest I can think of is when she tell Sansa about how Robert would always fuck off when she went into labor. So they never understood this character at all, or they never thought she was worthy of their show.

Jess: Yeah, Cersei very rarely reveals truth or trauma about herself. She never wants to be vulnerable. The few times she does you can tell it’s because she feels so in power in the situation, and is considering the other person such a nonviable threat, that she can let down some of her defensive guard without repercussions (i.e. with Sansa). Cat is an adult and the Lady of Winterfell. For Cersei to ever choose to be emotionally vulnerable here, especially given the wider situation with Jon Arryn and Bran, really just doesn’t make sense from a character perspective. And, you can tell from how D&D talk about it that they have no idea what her motivations in this scene are.

Dan: The most glaring change to me is the way they’re handling Khal Drogo and Dany. In the book, the two have affection for each other from the get-go, and Drogo is not some wild beast man for the pretty white girl to “tame.” But D&D decided to go with that, along with a dash of a weird empowerment narrative and just a pinch of over-sexualization. It really lessens the impact of Drogo and helps him seem more villainous than he was in the books.

Kylie: Though of course…in the books given the inherent exploitative nature of that situation, he’s not exactly my nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize. Definitely a different tone, no question.

There was a lot of movement and time passing in this episode. Did this work, or was it hedging into Jon and Sansa on a bullet train territory?

Julia: I think it did work. They actually put effort into reconciling it too. Like, the Dany stuff and the King’s party travelling was clearly happening over a longer period of time, but the stuff in Winterfell could conceivably be in one day. So they went out of their way to say that Cat’s been praying for Bran for more than a month. Nice.

Kylie: Yeah, I agree with you here. Sure, tuned out audiences may not be able to really grasp distance, but there was obviously still a thought to it. Like, “hey if this is all that happens in Winterfell, won’t that seem weird to viewers?” Game of Thrones today doesn’t give the slightest shit, where we get Arya clearly not experiencing more than 24 hours, while Jon and Sansa are on a journey that should be taking months.

Jess: Yeah exactly! It was so strange to also see them consider travel time and location. The title sequence with the map really worked to help establish Dany’s distance from the rest of Westeros and track her journey for viewers. It also helps the viewer feel the separation between the Starks as they all part ways. It just seemed like they cared about establishing it for viewers, but also only sped up time when it made sense for the characters. Everyone is in a state of flux (Cat grieving, Dany’s suffering, Ned and the girls finding their ground in the King’s party, Jon leaving) until the story catches up with them at that moment of change.

Dan: God bless Littlefinger and his jetpack. Can you imagine if they’d stuck with the speed of this episode for the whole show? They wouldn’t have been able to get away with near as much bullshit. They’re using the movement the way it’s supposed to be used, as a time to develop the world and the characters that inhabit it. Not having episodes like this really create a lot of problems later on in the series.

Related to the Carol Monologue: Do you see any Good Guys and Bad Guys emerging here? Or is this all a giant Grey mass?

Julia: Well, the Starks are definitely Good Guys. The whole murder plot set up would imply that the Lannisters are the bad guys, but then there’s that stupid Carol Monologue…ugh. I think the only person who seems a total Bad Guy might be Viserys? But even then, Robert isn’t coming across great, so it’s not like we’re rooting for him to stay king or anything.

Kylie: Even with the Carol monologue, I’d argue Cersei is still fairly villainous. Like, her advocating for Lady’s death was quite clearly driven by pettiness that Robert wouldn’t cut off Arya’s hand, or whatever it is she had been hoping for. The tragic backstory undercut it, sure, but let’s just call her “Thanos.” Because who doesn’t like an open cans of worms?

I guess Drogo is now out of the “bad guy” category since he liked looking at Dany during sex, though I’m not sure how entirely comfortable I am with that framing to begin with. Viserys certainly is “bad guy.” I’m not sure what to make of their framing of Jaime, since he’s been an asshole to everyone but his family and flung Bran from a tower. That’s “bad,” isn’t it?

Jess: I would say in this episode, as per Jack Gleeson’s insane performance, Joffrey is pretty bad. Especially when he takes a blade to Mycah and Arya. The Lannisters overall seem to be the closest we get to “bad,” but they counteract that pretty quickly with Tyrion and Cersei’s sad monologue. Jaime is still being framed as pretty bad, especially with him belittling Jon, but then we get that breakfast scene where we’re shown the bond he shares with Tyrion. It’s that level of greyness where we are still able to root for some over others (the Starks) but have the waters muddied enough that it’s not a hard line. They’re people. Which is nice compared to the villains we get later on in the series. There was less focus on it, but the Hound riding down Mycah also seems quite villainous, and we haven’t gotten any moral ambiguity from him yet. “He ran” is quite the ‘bad guy’ line. Especially when framed against Ned’s righteousness and morality.

Julia: I forgot about Joffery. But it’s hard to see a kid that way. Same for Sandor. Like, it’s clear he’s a henchman more than anything.

Dan: Overall, though, everyone is still occupying actual grey areas. Jaime is pompous but a good brother and seems a little respectful of Jon. Cersei is positioned as a victim of the system like Cat or even Sansa, and even Joffrey is still a petulant idiot and not the complete monster that he’d become. He’s Draco, still, not full Voldemort. Robert would come off a lot worse if Mark Addy weren’t so good. Plus, Lena Headey plays Cersei so villainous that you almost pity Robert even as we see him as a violent, sexist boor. This episode really makes Sansa come across as more of a villain, as the show clearly wants us to empathize with Arya more. Which kind of just starts the trend of the show not knowing how to handle Sansa.

Kylie: It’s also indicative of the “what even is morality” to come. Good guys and bad guys end up doing the same shit, just to different musical cues. At least for now this is a useful question.

Though on the Sansa and Arya point, Dan, Ned is given a line next episode to explain Sansa’s actions in a decently adequate way. It’s not perfect, but people point to the early books as having Arya-favoritism, too.

How was the pacing?

Kylie: I thought the pacing last episode worked. Then this episode came along and I was thinking, “Wow this is much more engaging somehow.” I don’t know…it wasn’t less “dead air” or anything like that, but I think I forgot how much time passed (and still felt like it was passing) and how much ground was covered. My brain was never zoning out or thinking about what lunch I wanted to pack for the following day.

So in a word: good.

Jess: Agreed. The pacing really sped up in this episode without skimming over character moments. It was engaging from start to finish and I think showcases how much you benefit from basically only including what’s necessary and not spending most of your page count trying to fit the run time.

Julia: It was a little overwhelming when thinking of my highlights and lowlights, how many things happened in this episode. But it didn’t feel rushed in the slightest. And it certainly didn’t feel like character was being sacrificed for the plot or anything.

Dan: Agree with all of the above, not much to add. It’s fast paced in some ways as it covers multiple plot threads, but its still relatively slow as episodes go. It leaves plenty of room for character and worldbuilding.

Let’s talk about sex, baby (if applicable)

Julia: Were there even any sex workers in this episode?

Kylie: There was a sex slave, does that count? I don’t think we get Ros flashing Theon until next episode though.

But no, all we’ve really got is Dany’s sexual education, which we touched on already. So a very chaste episode of this show, when you get down to it.

Jess: Surprising lack of sex, especially considering the reputation this show has. However questionable it is, at least the Dany stuff was tied directly to character.

Dan: I don’t care for how they messed with Drogo to make this episode’s stuff work for Dany, but I think there was most likely a conscious effort to limit the sex stuff to as it was written. Vague “feminist” points.

Is it holding up?

Jess: I would say it is for sure and I feel most of the first season will. It feels like intelligent storytelling and looks like it’s made by people who care about the material. I’m sure some of that comes from a lower budget on such a high production value show, making it a passion project by default, as well as sticking closely with the successful source material. This episode was so enjoyable and I definitely miss feeling that way about the show. Still, the little cracks stand out like craters now knowing how big they grow and where they end up.

Julia: Yes, for sure. There was a lot of world building in this episode and most of it felt very natural. I like the bits about dragons especially.

Kylie: And that was without anyone in a tub! (No really, I’m excited for that scene.) But yes, this is again, a decent adaptation, and a decent show. I’m finding Dany’s storyline far less convincing than I did the first time around, but contextualized by everything else, I would think it keeps the show in the “let’s wait and see how this plays out” category for most first-time viewers.

Dan: This is one of my favorite episodes of the show, and I don’t know if I can really say why. It just has so many good moments. I mean, think of just how many memes this episode birthed (whether they were in the book at first or not): The Tyrion Slap, “wear it like armor, “a mind needs books,” Tyrion’s eyebrows, and most of what Bobby B said. Might be a bad omen considering how obsessed with being memetic the show became, but it really was a great episode then and holds up now.

In memoriam: Lady, Mycah, and “You’re Not Supposed to Be Here” Catspaw

Kylie: It doesn’t matter that I knew it was coming and I knew exactly how it was staged, Lady’s death hit me like a truck. I had to keep telling myself, “It’s okay, Sophie Turner adopted her in real life,” after the episode cut to black. Ugh. I feel bad that this overshadowed Mycah, but damn it’s effective.

Jess: Lady’s death will never not be sad. Sophie Turner acts her face off in this scene and Sean Bean’s stoic solemness, trying to hold in all the anger, sadness, and guilt really hits hard. I also wish Mycah’s death had its time for the audience to process but Sean Bean is so good here that he kind of does it for us, building up to this suffocating feeling of danger and grief.

Julia: I’m a horrible person, but the Catspaw was more funny than anything. Why would you draw attention to yourself like that? What did he think would happen?

Dan: The catspaw just looks like a Frey, which kind of makes his fucking up understandable. Mycah was whatever, because we’ve no real attachment to him. Lady, yeah, that was rough. But I’ve always loved what Lady’s death meant for Sansa and what it represented for of the direwolves. So it’s a sad death, but it’s one of the most important in the first season.

Kylie: I’m team #ThrowRocksAtDirewolves. Come on Ned, join that club.

***

Thus concludes another chapter in The Wars to Come. Please let us know your impressions [re]watching it below. Do you think it’s holding up as a solid episode? Are we over-blowing the cracks in the plaster? We have such questions, and as we’re on this journey, an eagerness to continue. We’ll see you next Tuesday.


Images courtesy of HBO

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  • Kylie

    Kylie is a Managing Editor at The Fandomentals on a mission to slay all the tropes. She has a penchant for complex familial dynamics and is easily pleased when authors include in-depth business details.

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